Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Amazon has Brought Me

Just dropping by, this post, for a bit of celebration -

a very welcome delivery in the mail -

the more or less brand new Ozu double box, The Only Son -

and There was a Father -

plus Vivre Sa Vie, which has been out awhile, but I finally bought it....

It's a great moment. The Godard is one of my all time favorites

tending to alternate with PIerrot le Fou as my favorite Godard...

The Ozus are masterworks that have been nigh on impossible to see -

but thrilling, in their quintessential

and unquintessential


it is a bounteous day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day Avec JLG

Happy Bastille Day, France!

It's been a very Godard week for me. I saw the rereleased Breathless over the weekend, watched the 2 or 3 Things I know About Her DVD (mainly to listen to the commentary, this time), dug around the extras on both those DVDs... Had a very Godard-like train ride the other day. It helped that I was reading CinemaScope's Film Socialisme article - but... there was a woman sitting near me, studying flashcards - "Working Capital and its components" the top one read. Across from me, advertisements - one a car ad, with a woman standing in the poster, beside a stack of cars, all different colors and makes. The other - I don't know what it was for - it looked like some kind of art - light blue with white, like clouds, swirls, faces (that looked like the designs in the pull quotes in the CinemaScope article.) There was a tall woman standing in front of me - staring out the window - then turning, and staring past my ear for a moment or two... and the people on the train, all lined up, all blank... and one woman, halfway down the car, who looked from a distance like Marina Vlady. And after this, toward the end of the ride, another woman, in a crowd, holding the bar - all I could see of her was one arm, reaching up to hold the support - she had, tattooed in beautiful script on her arm, a quote from W.E.B. DuBois (it turns out): "I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not."

It's all - something. There's that sense of gratification and wonder you get when you see something through someone else's eyes - to see yourself in a Godard film, in Godard's world... but here - to remember that it's not a particularly pleasant world he's describing. A world of commerce, capital (and its components), the dreary deadening routine of 9 to 5 work, chopped up constricted time, the colonization of the imagination by a language of commerce, authority, conformity - can't deny those things. Though too - can't deny the thrill of higher things - a great bit of language (whatever it means to see it turned into a bit of body art) - or the excitement of anticipating a new Godard film - or the brilliance and beauty of the old Godard films. Or - the realization just how well Godard encapsulated the world, described it, recreated it. Those 60s films saw the future, and the future they describe is closer to the truth than most.

So - there's more to France than Godard, but there's no question, Godard has done the country proud, and there are many worse ways to celebrate the French than by watching a Godard film or two.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spain Wins!

The World Cup is done - Spain won, beating the Netherlands 1-0 thanks to Iniesta's goal some 26 minutes into extra time. Not the prettiest game, I suppose, but a dramatic one, hard fought and tense. I have to admit that I am far less offended by the lack of aesthetics than a lot of commentators seem to be - ESPN's gang were carrying on to no end about how bad it was, but it seems to me, Holland did what other teams couldn't do - dictate the terms of play, a bit, to Spain. SPain usually imposes itself on the game completely - Germany let them - teams like Paraguay and Portugal were naturally defensive minded, and so let Spain control possession and wait for the opening. Holland never got much offense going, but they also did well to disrupt the Spanish attack. I'm sure they would rather have done it without the fouls and cards, but if it takes fouls and cards to throw a team off its game, then, that's what you do. Though it's certainly justice that the cards probably beat the Dutch in the end - Spain getting their goal after Holland went down a man. It was a much more interesting second half, as both teams actually seemed to become more offensively minded as the game went on (as noted in the Zonal Marking post) - overall, I'm not going to complain. I wish the Dutch had won, but am quite satisfied to see Spain win - they certainly deserved it, looking better and better the longer the tournament went. Their defense has been noted - giving up 2 goals in the tourney - what impressed me, in game after game, is how good they were at getting the ball back, and how effectively they could turn interceptions or steals into offense - even on defense, they always seemed to be aware of their teammates, and turned defensive headers or interceptions or whatever into passes... They are a beautiful team to watch, and especially at the little things, like that - not flashy goal scorers, but such beautiful control of the ball, and of the whole game. They deserve this.

On a side note - nice to see Diego Forlan win the Golden Ball award. Uruguay provided a wonderful cinderella story in the tournament, though the way they played on the field, they were hardly cinderellas - they looked very much in the thick of things. Mostly because of Forlan, whose brilliance (along with that of Luis Suarez) seemed to give the team the ability to concentrate on defense without worrying about the goals. They too - and especially Forlan and Suarez - were a joy to watch.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Summer Friday Interlude

Waiting for the end of the World Cup - should be a good game - the one I wanted to see, Holland and Spain. Crown a new champion! Sneijder vs. Xavi! Relive the wars of the 16th and 17th centuries! Rembrandt and Vermeer vs. Goya and Velazquez! (Van Gogh vs. Picasso for the more modernist minded.) (That's a hell of a lineup there - pound for pound, it's hard to beat the Dutch at painting, though when all is said and done, Velazquez and Picasso might be the Xavi and Iniesta of... um... there's a metaphor there...) Right. I'll root for the Dutch, but have no complaints should Spain win. There's not much to pick between them - Spain seems to have a better team, and the ability to simply take complete control of every game; Holland has a defense built to disrupt teams like Spain's (those tough tackling midfielders), and, seemingly, better finishers up front. Should be good...

Once the world cup is done - I may get back to seeing films. I did see a couple last week, I Am Love and Cyrus - I might even get around to reviewing them... This week, the rereleased Breathless plays, and that's always a must see...

And - I should note - one more week in Lucas McNelly's Kickstarter Campaign. Anyone who can make a movie out of a $4G grubstake probably deserves a shot at it...

Finally? Been too damn hot the last week or so, and I have not been getting my beauty sleep. I am cranky and full of sloth. So here are the Kinks singing about summer in the snow:

Monday, July 05, 2010

World Cup Semifinals

We've reached the end of the World Cup, the last week, the semis starting tomorrow... (I'm sure anyone who actually comes here for movie notes instead of uninformed soccer comments will be thrilled. Or would be thrilled if any such readers remain...) They should be good. The quarterfinals had it all - a major (if not exactly world stopping) upset (Holland over Brazil), a rout (Germany over Argentina), two close games, one between heavy favorite Spain and a very gritty Paraguay team, the other an absolute thriller of a game between Uruguay and Ghana. That game, particularly, was something to see - a 1-1 tie through 90 minutes and overtime, with both teams playing to win really... And ending in more or less unimaginable fashion - a flurry of attack by Ghana with no time left, the ref ready to call time the minute the play ended, but it didn't, they put the ball on net, again and again, until a Uruguay player - Luis Suarez, one of their stars - swatted it out. Penalty, with no time left - and Ghana's Gyan (who had 3 goals and 2 penalty shots already in the tourney) missed... Leading to a penalty shootout, which Uruguay rather cooly won. Amazing. Heartbreaking too, for the last African team to go out like this - having played extraordinary soccer in 2 straight overtime knockout games...

It will take some to top that game (though Paraguay and Spain tried, at least on the penalty missing front, both teams missing one within about 2 minutes of each other), but it stands to be a pretty lively semifinal round, and a good final game. Germany's back to looking pretty much unbeatable, putting up 4 for the third time in the tournament, this time against a decent team. But they play Spain, who are showing signs of why they were the favorites coming in. They (Spain) are an odd team - they play a pretty brand of soccer, but have the devil's time scoring goals - their brand of possession soccer starts to look like the most attractive kind of defensive soccer in the world. Germany has been blitzing people, but I don't know if that will work as well if they never get the ball, and that's Spain's game. If I had to pick, I suppose I'd say Germany looks stronger - but this is a pretty close game, and no result will surprise me. (Except maybe a 4-0 Spanish win... )

Meanwhile - The Netherlands comes off beating Brazil to play Brazil's neighbors, Uruguay. Holland has been deadly efficient - beating Brazil might seem like an upset for the ages, though in the rankings, it means #4 beat #1 - Holland has been playing very well the last couple years, they have a load of talent... They are not as thrilling to watch as some past Dutch teams, but they are very organized and efficient, and are able to mount a pretty effective attack when they need to. They have players who can win a game alone - Wesley Snejder has done most of that in this world cup, but he is not alone... Uruguay, on the other hand, has been - as I said last time - playing the part of Italy: strong, team defense, and a spectacular front line to take care of getting the goal or two they need... They will have to play this game without Suarez - which makes it Forlan vs. the world, basically... I suspect they will play for the 0-0 tie (or a set piece goal) - it's not impossible, they did it (shorthanded even) against France, who should have been able to score. Holland is a different matter though - they have looked out of synch on offense, but they are also resourceful and willing to work - I think they can find a goal.

Though in the end - almost any combination for the finals is going to be exciting. Personally, I would love to see Spain and Holland - probably the two best national teams, over time, never to win the cup - that would make a great final. But Germany Holland would be a great final - traditional rivals, one of the perennial champs vs. the great underachievers - a rematch of 74, when the best team never to win lost to the Germans... Revenge! And if the Dutch don't win, well - Uruguay in the finals has to be a fantastic story on its own - a huge underdog - though one carrying two cup wins already. And if they can beat Holland, they should have a chance against the other two, especially with Suarez back on the field....

So yeah - it's going to be a fun ending to the cup. I hope? Holland beats Spain. My cold, analytical opinion? Well - consider that a week ago I would have said, Argentina beats Brazil... notice how that turned out... But I suppose the hard-hearted answer is Germany beats Holland. But those guesses never come out right... so probably Spain beats Uruguay. I will say - almost no result will leave me disappointed - I rather like all the teams left in the fray.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

Happy fourth of July, folks. Let's celebrate with some vintage Springsteen. "All men must make their way" - I must say my first year of college I lived with The River - somehow, that record seems a bit submerged in Bruce's oeuvre these days, overshadowed by the earlier, rawer stuff and later poppier stuff - but I lived with it, and am always surprised to be reminded how well it holds up.

Here he is, live in 1980:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Heart of the World

Happy Canada day! And thanks for Guy Maddin... one of the great films of the decade, this one...